February 20, 2016

2315 UNITED KINGDOM (Turks and Caicos Islands) - The Queen Conch

Conch is a common name to a different medium to large-sized sea snails or their shells. The term generally applies to large snails whose shell has a high spire and a noticeable siphonal canal. The group of conchs that are sometimes referred to as "true conchs" are the ones from the family Strombidae, specifically in the genus Strombus, popular throughout the Caribbean and especially in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI). It is an important symbol of the TCI, being one of three symbols on the flag.

The Queen Conch (strombus giga) is an endangered animal, due to overfishing, and today only 3 countries export them to the United States. The Caicos Conch Farm on Providenciales is the world’s only conch farm. Conchs start as an egg in an egg mass, a group of individual strands (about 500,000 eggs) which are woven together with sand to protect them. They take 3-4 years to mature and become suitable for consumption. Conch have separate sexes and mate approximately 9 times a year, between March and October. In the wild, only one egg out of 500,000 in the egg mass usually matures into an adult.

Queen Conchs produce beautiful shells. Early settlers to the TCI would grind and burn the shells to create plaster and stucco for their walls. More recently, a local entrepreneur uses them to create bathroom and kitchen countertops. It is illegal to export conch shells from the TCI, and also illegal to import them into many countries. It is also an integral part of the local cuisine, two popular dishes being conch fritters and conch salad. It tastes similar to clams, although it is a lot more ‘rubbery’ with a more defined texture.

About the stamps

The stamp was issued on July 12, 2013 to celebrate the Chinese New Yeay - Year of the Snake.

Conch - Wikipedia
Conch - A National Symbol - Visit Turks and Caicos Islands

Sender: Denise 
Sent from Providenciales (Providenciales / TCI), on 14.04.2015
Photo: Michael Friedel

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